Local music industry stalwart Colin Stewart passes away

Colin Stewart. (Courtesy Facebook)

One of the most important figures in London’s music community that you may have never heard of has passed away.

Bass player, booking agent, and musical director Colin Stewart died in a car crash Sunday morning while on his way to a show in Eastern Ontario.

Stewart’s friend of more than three decades and former bandmate Doug Varty was saddened by the news. Varty says Stewart was always happy to serve in the background while others shined in the spotlight.

“Colin not much of a limelight kind of a guy. He always just wanted to be working in the industry. He wanted to be doing what he does, and that was the main thing to him.”

Stewart was the musical director for the Johnny and June show at Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg Ontario, set to have its opening Tuesday.

Varty says Stewart was always busy, but perhaps more importantly, he kept others busy as well.

“Mr. Man on the Ground, you know he was always doing somethig. He had a number of theatre shows. He employed a lot of people who were part of the musical revues that he created with a partner, and those reviews, I went to Germany and worked in one of those shows over there. He kept a lot of people working.”

Forest City London Music Awards founder Mario Circelli remembers Stewart as a strong advocate for working musicians and for fair wages for musicians.

“We were talking about how musicians were low-balling their fee and sometimes performing for free just to get a gig at a local bar,” says Cirelli. “And he really thought that we were devaluing the art and that musicians were devaluing themselves and the art. So he was a champion for local music and musicians.”

Stewart was also heavily involved in the Lighting of the Lights shows at London’s Victoria Park every year, which started off the Christmas season.